tv [untitled] May 6, 2012 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT
of the land mines in northern oklahoma just on the kansas border was opened by land and 100,000 people made that. 19-1, the commanche lands, all of this was open in 19 and went by lottery. land runs were not working. everybody who wants land, put their name on a sheet of paper and pull it out. the fifth homestead goes to john smith. they all celebrate and get their land. then with the five civilized tribes and so many members of the tribes the land was divide and they get their individual lands. by 1906, the process is completed. in 1907, oklahoma becomes a state. this is a land of contrast and diversity. for a historian like me, i have been studying for 32 years. i never ceased to be amazed at
the pieces of this puzzle that fitting to n odd and unique ways that make oklahoma unlike any other state of the union. . >> stay tuned all weekend long. they feature oklahoma city, oklahoma. learn more about the local content vehicles at c-span.org/local content. we will feature wichita, kansas. you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend here on c-span 3. >> the organization of american historians and the national council on public history recently held their annual meeting in milwaukee wisconsin. american history tv spoke with several attendees. alice o'connor from the
university of california santa barbara discuss the panic of 87 and other crisis and explain how they relate to the 2008 financial crisis. this is about a half hour. >> american history tv is at the annual meeting of historians in milwauk milwaukee. we are joined by two historians who will be speaking about economic crisis and american history. jessica teaches history at the university of new hampshire and alice o'connor, the historian at the university of california, santa barbara. thanks for being with us. let's start with the panic of 1837. what was that panic of 1837? >> the panic of 1837 was what referred to a long period of time. it referred to seven years. both the financial crisis and really hard times that followed it.
my focus has been on the experience of panic. it happened between march and may of 1837. it was rather remarkably similar in a lot of ways. it was a credit crisis out of real estate speculation and consumption of goods and similar experience to what a lot of people have just looked through. >> similar in that it was an inherited crisis for martin know van buren. >> andrew jackson was present. the same day in london and new orleans the panic began. yes, it was a crisis, but a crisis inherited within administration. he was andrew jackson's right hand man. he was not exactly ignorant. >> what was the driving engine?
>> it was one of enormous growth. unbelievable president. the slave plantations of the south expanded west and it was at a remarkable rate for native americans. that cotton imagine connected to the markets in liverpool and it really drove the economy. england supported in 1820 and 1830s with the financial backers. internal improvements and building of canals and railroads in the north. they drove the americans. >> when students tried to draw parallels between a crisis of 1837 and the 2008 crisis, where do you see the best merging of
the paths. >> they are similar in a bunch of ways. in some ways they are remarkably similar. they are built on property. the instrumentation and they are different. it is used to describe the crisis they were living through is similar to our own. we were living through the 2007, 2008 early periods of our own hard times. this is the same sort of language that 19th century americans used except 19th century americans did not have a sense of capitalism or the economy or a gdp or anything that we use as markers to try to figure out how our own system works.
it's similar with people grappling with the problems of losing fortunes overnight and incredibly different. >> professor o'connor for the session on economic crisis in history. what do you plan to make as the main focus. what do you plan to make as the discussion? >> the panel itself is talking about why it is not only that economic crisis that matters in history, but what they are and how they relate to one another. why is it that narratives of economic crisis matters? some of the things that jessica was saying i resonate with and part of the rational for this panel and partly because it was our way and historians have something unique to bring to the economic crisis and why they matter.
not only in the degree to which historians can step back and get a fully contextual sense of the transformations that are underlying these moments of panic and moments of crisis. historians, narrative is our tool. in helping people to make sense of the bewildering events that are happening all-around it. helping people to in that way try to rest some control, whether they can or not. they are destructing their lives possibly, but also bringing some understanding to how narratives are used for political purposes.
not just those purposes, but they are used to electoral purposes and the politics of blame that is a big theme. you can avoid it in thinking about the upcoming election. who is to blame and whose crisis is this? the crisis is suddenly barack obama's crisis and martin van buren's crisis. that's a political process. >> of course in 1933 under fdr, right some. >> absolutely. many moments of crisis and panic in particular. economic crisis that begins with moments of financial panic or financialized panic. they have banks at the core. they have different aspects of the whole banking system and the
system of global finance at the core. one of the themes that draws all that and the origins of the crisis. that happened yesterday. the slave trade in the textile trade in england. >> the credit that enabled ca l canals to be built and lands to be purchase and slaves and all of that. it came from england. it came from banks like the roth childs and the big banks in england and the bank of england controlled the credit markets for all of that. banks are an interesting part of the panic of 1837. for a long time, historians focused on the bank runs at the end of the period as the start. that was the end of when people
were panicked. the causation was just as politic political, the whigs are viewed for martin van buren and the democrats are viewed for banks and merchants and the international forces. even when we try to think about it as banks at the center, that's an argument that got shaped in the financial crisis. >> in 2008 crisis, we didn't have too many runs on banks per se. governments stepped in largely to rescue a number of institutions. i was struck by in 1837, there was certainly a call for the government to step in. >> it's interesting in 1837, it's often thought that there were not that many bank runs.
they shut themselves down in terms of trading paper money before there could be bank runs. those who didn't want the intervention agreed with the existing policies which were already an interventionist measure to bring back more gold and silver. the 1830s moments because the parties are new. the looming economy. the scale was really different. >> going back to 2008 and the
narrative you talked about in terms of the history that focused on the bank's role in 2008 and how that fits into the narrative of past. the financial crisis that remains in some ways that has a crisis. that can be resolved through bailing out the banks or stabilizing the banks or stabilizing the system of financing and reforeigning it. it is a narrow way absolutely the banks are a larger process of economic reform and financial
deregulation and the restructuring of capitalism we have been seeing over the course of several decades. also absolutely deeply rooted in the problems of inequality. essentially that puts people in position of being so vulnerable themselves. to this whole process of subprime lending. this whole process of essentially debt financed ways of getting by. not just ways of getting ahead, but ways of getting by. that remains unaddressed and simply frame the crisis as a crisis of credit. a great gigantic credit crunch that has to be fixed through government intervention. >> you had something to add.
it ended up shaping the way people thought about economics. a self-made man was playing an important of getting people to invest in the economy and during the crisis, they started to argue that they are not responsible. the self-meat failure is divorced from self-made success. it's the reverse happening in the 1830s. during the crisis they start to look for bigger forces. that process kind of leads to changes in the economic thought. >> it came out of the depression because we have parents or grandparents that went through
the depression although the memories are fading as our parents and grandparents die off. among the social lessons of the depression, but the frugality and the idea of resilience and building savings and social lessons that we are learning from the 2008 crisis, for example. >> that is another story in many ways of historical revisionism. we are still hiding out. >> of the great depression. >> you see this debate happening before our eyes. wondering of the great depression that traces roots to a series of structural problems. it had to do with what's happening in the agricultural sector.
versus a version of what happened to cause the great depression. it started as a credit crunch and the great contraption and then through a variety of mistakes on the other side on the part of the federal reserve that mismanaged the crisis and then government so-called interference that prolonged the crisis. that's what caused the great depression. that version of the great depression is being replayed right now in arguments that say what happened was government stepped in and bailed things out and then the obama administration made things worse by this economic stimulus package by not allowing the free market to and therefore the crisis becomes obama's crisis. in many ways we are still fighting out the lessons of the great depression in the way we
are managing the crisis now. i pointed to one other thing that is very, very important. you might be called that at the very beginning of the great recession and what to do about the great recession. in 2008, really there is a great question of when this started. early on in the obama administration, there was a lot of talk about 1937. the great lesson of 1937, supposedly the consensus of 1937 is that what you do not do in times of great economic recession is go too quickly to the politics. that's the great lesson of the roosevelt recession in 1937. for a while early on, that was the prevailing consensus. that disappeared as we have turned to the politics of
austerity. certainly in our own discussion and absolutely in the broader global political discussion about the european debt crisis and what to do about that. it's interesting to see how lessons rise and fall. in the course of a few short years as economic crisis extends. or months in my case. >> the panic of 1837 intensified because there was no communication and in those months, narratives of even the same author changed from the novel called experiments of living. living within the means and up to the means and beyond the means. >> personal means. >> this is about an individual family and how to govern the finances. it comes out in december and it's a run away best will isser in the spring of 1837. at the end of a crisis, she
comes up with a second book and the lesson is not how your individual choices can prevent your family's downfall. it's about how you are trapped in a big spider cobweb. you can try to do things to help your family and you can't control the system. into a few months, the same author can change her mind. >> you touched on this earlier, has the way we measure economic success mainly focused as a nation, has that changed throughout the course of 180 or 175 years? in terms of that, the 1830s and they didn't think in those terms. they haven't developed into early economics yet. they didn't measure the growth as a component of what they were
supposed to be studying. they were thinking in individual terms. the political economy and novels with a lot of work about how the genres of measurement. genres of discussion are narrative in form and intertwined with one another. it has not become the model we think of today. when they apply the models on the 1830s to try to figure out whether the economy was successful, it's a fiction. there is no way for us to know. they didn't collect the data that would be useful. >> by 2008, we have plenty of ways to figure it out. unemployment and gdp. >> and also recession. the definition of recession in terms of the length of time one is in periods of economic growth. and it remains a debate about how you should measure it. how you should date recessions
when they begin and end. how they are measured as well. >> one of the most interesting things i have read is stature as a measure of economic success. people stature. actual height. literally height. >> in the 18th, people born in the late 1830s or 40s are shorter than people before them and people who had come later. hard times took a physical toll on people's bodies. >> one of the measures is unemployment and you have run an article about the myth of man's session. this has come up with an issue in the campaign. what do you mean by that term? this is going back to the idea that how individuals, but also at a more political and structural level.
economic crisis is narrated. early on in the great recession, there was a lot of talk about this being unique and being a so-called man session. generally speaking, you do see a period in which men are the first to lose their jobs in part because they hold the jobs. but again, the argument is in the past men also are early and the first to recover. this makes it unique that men not only are they suffering more, but their economic hardship is more prolonged and more severe than the hardship being suffered by women. this is how the argument went and the notion that this is unique in being a man session as
opposed to somehow a woman's session. it's a way of furthering other agendas. the so-called man session was a way drawing attention to the way of the economy and the way politics were femmeinized and how special interests, women in particular were making a special claim on the administration to supposedly to need special assistance. none of which was true. i think the session idea was not a very helpful way. thinking about the economy. what it draws our attention to is something that we frequently see in the experience of severe economic downturn and long economic hardship. that has tremendously disrupted a family life and a individual life in terms of the way they
think about their place in the world and the way they think about where they should be and the way they think about bread winning and their sense of the responsibility. frankly their sense of woman hood as well. so many women are breadwinners in their own family. a lot of talk about changing gender roles are played out in the way of the current recession just as they have been played out over and over and over again in the way people make sense of the big economic crisis. i know jessica here and her work as well. >> in the 1830s, the same situation. crisis caused incredible disruption in people's lives and they struggle to make sense of them. gender is a way in which they
change as a course of financial crisis. in the immediate proceeding of the panic of 1837, a bunch of new york working men had a riot. they through flour out of the windows of warehouses and as my friend said, because their sense of masculinity was threatened. they couldn't provide for their families. >> it was a wage they were arguing over? >> the price of flour. they were being paid less and less because the flour's price is going up and up. people ate mostly bread. poor people couldn't afford much to eat. this was before they expected square meals and balanced diets. before a social safety net. if a working man didn't make a wage that could buy barrels of flower, and that was part of
life in the free market world. >> how long are the stories of the crisis? . . >> some people say it ends in 1843 or so and some people say it ends with the mexican war later on. big expansionist boom and a lot of federal spending in the economy. it hurt people for a long time and it didn't just hurt people in america. a global economic turning and in england the 1840s were known as the hungry 40s by the end of the 19th century and early 20th. it was such a period of starvation. >> looking at that lesson, where are we now? we are talk taking it up to the 2008 crisis. >> this is another thing. we keep drawing attention to the
continuities. we all want to caution this is not the same thing happening. one of the long-term impacts. a lot of research being done about the effects. they had to downsize early on in the career. the input is not just felt for a couple of years. it's literally following you throughout your career. especially the experience of long-term unemployment. you see it at the end of the working years. people who are close to retirement age who had to throw that out the window whose
economic security has been undermined. who find themselves really on the brink of experiencing hunger. the rates of hunger have gone up over the past few years. reliance on food stamps. measure and measurable rates of hunger have gone up. again that has long-term impacts. especially with childhood nutrition. many things we can glean from the past, but now we are paying closer attention to the long-term impact. >> we have a couple minutes left. it ends at the handle meeting. >> why should we study history. >> that are provides us with a way of understanding the world
and paying close attention to the sources of the past and trying to figure out how people in the past framed their own lives. that's important to think through for ourselves and see we have power over the way we think through our lives and not just how we live our lives. in some way the structures that frame our lives, but also in the cultural implications of how we think about what we do every day. it matters a lot. they see similarities and differences when they study the past. this issue of college kids and leaving school without employment. that comes up in the classroom. i would say like at least every other day. the major issue in the students's lives. trying to get them to see the